For readers seeking a diverse, witchy mystery.

B*WITCH

From the B*Witch series , Vol. 1

Teen witches are tasked with finding those who are threatened by their existence.

Sorrow Point, Washington, seems like a typical American small town except for the two secret covens of sophomore witches who have been feuding since junior high. When newcomer Iris—who is just doing her best to manage her anxiety and sensory processing disorder—arrives, Greta (the levelheaded leader), Binx (the technomancer rebel), and Ridley (the studious and artistic one) make plans to recruit her before the rival coven does. Since the new president started stirring up venomous hatred toward witches, there have been more Antima (Anti-Magic) members lurking around. Suddenly, the girls start receiving threatening shadow messages. Their entire existence is illegal and could spell trouble if anyone ever found out who they truly were. As they attempt to track the notes’ sender, tragedy strikes, and now the covens will have to band together to find out who murdered a fellow witch. The author crafts an honest, promising story narrated through a third-person omnipotent voice and featuring an inclusive, distinct cast of young women who detail their unique struggles. The story fizzles at the very end with the setup for another installment, however readers will relish the character-building as they get to know these young witches. Greta is cued as Latinx, Iris is white, Binx is Japanese American, and Ridley is black and trans.

For readers seeking a diverse, witchy mystery. (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02876-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Freeform/Disney/LBYR

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A successful romantic enterprise.

THE UPSIDE OF FALLING

High school seniors do the fake dating thing.

Brett Wells has always been focused on football. Brainy Becca Hart’s faith in love was destroyed by her parents’ divorce. The two have little in common other than being pestered by their friends and families about the lack of a special someone in their lives. They embark upon a “fake relationship,” but, predictably, it gives way to a real one. Debut author Light sprinkles in just enough charm and good-natured romance as the narrative bounces between Brett’s and Becca’s perspectives to keep readers engaged but not overwhelmed by twee sentiment. Becca is a much better developed character than Brett (handsome yet doofy, he has the complexity of a golden retriever), and her chapters are the novel’s highlights. Brett’s whole deal is a bigger pill to swallow, but readers who go with it will find a pleasant story. The novel is a syrupy ode to what it feels like to slowly fall for someone for the first time, and that mood is captured effectively. Becca and Brett have chemistry that feels completely natural, but sadly there are some late-in-the-game plot mechanics that feel forced. Fortunately, the author seems as uninterested in these disruptions as readers will be: Things are resolved quickly, and the novel ends on a high note. Whiteness is situated as the norm; main characters are white.

A successful romantic enterprise. (Romance. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-291805-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end.

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

From the Peculiar Children series , Vol. 1

Riggs spins a gothic tale of strangely gifted children and the monsters that pursue them from a set of eerie, old trick photographs.

The brutal murder of his grandfather and a glimpse of a man with a mouth full of tentacles prompts months of nightmares and psychotherapy for 15-year-old Jacob, followed by a visit to a remote Welsh island where, his grandfather had always claimed, there lived children who could fly, lift boulders and display like weird abilities. The stories turn out to be true—but Jacob discovers that he has unwittingly exposed the sheltered “peculiar spirits” (of which he turns out to be one) and their werefalcon protector to a murderous hollowgast and its shape-changing servant wight. The interspersed photographs—gathered at flea markets and from collectors—nearly all seem to have been created in the late 19th or early 20th centuries and generally feature stone-faced figures, mostly children, in inscrutable costumes and situations. They are seen floating in the air, posing with a disreputable-looking Santa, covered in bees, dressed in rags and kneeling on a bomb, among other surreal images. Though Jacob’s overdeveloped back story gives the tale a slow start, the pictures add an eldritch element from the early going, and along with creepy bad guys, the author tucks in suspenseful chases and splashes of gore as he goes. He also whirls a major storm, flying bullets and a time loop into a wild climax that leaves Jacob poised for the sequel.

A trilogy opener both rich and strange, if heavy at the front end. (Horror/fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59474-476-1

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

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